Letter Box

Tuesday November 13, 2012

Rethink fire/police renovations Editor of the Reformer:

At a recent Representative Town Meeting, a bond was passed for more than $14 million (which means more than $20 million after interest) for "renovations" to two fire department buildings and the police department. On the website where the architect's plans are noted, the words used are "renovations" and "additions." To me, renovations are changes, upgrades to existing buildings; "additions" means adding onto existing buildings. The "additions" called for in these plans more than double the existing buildings' spaces.

I believe the public has been misled by the inappropriate use of language. Whether or not this was deliberate or a typo due to human error, the vote on the matter as presented at the meeting must be declared invalid since it did not accurately represent all the facts.

Some voters have caught this error and circulated petitions collecting signatures of those who believe this matter, adding another enormous debt burden to taxpayers, be determined by the voters themselves at the next Town Meeting in March. One district representative admitted that in the end the matter "went the way [they] wanted." Was that representative voting the way the district asked them to vote, or the way they individually wanted the matter to go?

There are reasons for not expanding these public service facilities at this time: The fire and police departments do a fabulous job, and have for many years, with the resources they now have; the population of the town has not changed in 10 years, so there is not an increased demand for service; we already have a $32-million dollar school bond we are paying off; we have a bond for the water treatment plant; taxes will increase by about 10 percent; and businesses are closing and leaving town.

While most folks want new and better, houses, cars, offices and hi-tech equipment, we must also learn to operate within the bounds of our personal budgets. Brattleboro cannot afford to extend its debt burden any further. We can, however, re-define our economy, using the creativity that is so abundant, and making our choices based on the "Golden Rule." We can re-create Brattleboro in the light of a bright and prosperous future if we put our minds and hearts to it and refrain from draining our pockets and the sense of goodwill that now exists here in our lovely community. We are mostly the 99 percent afterall; let us not let the 1 percent bully us into doing things contrary to our own sense of right and justice for all.

For the greater good of the Brattleboro community, thank you in advance for correcting this egregious mistake.

Lynn Russell,

Brattleboro, Oct. 31

Social welfare?

Editor of the Reformer:

Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing is a tax-exempt social welfare organization. We try to solve housing problems. And we watch Congresspeople work against us, backed by partisan interests.

Policies and elections are now regularly bought by interests masquerading as "social welfare" organizations and with the help of the IRS.

Our organization is classed by the IRS as a 501(c)(3). Another organization, Americans for Prosperity, they call a 501(c)(4). Both are granted tax-exemption, provided they're promoting "the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole."

Because of that requirement we are "absolutely prohibited" from partisan politics, from supporting or opposing political candidates directly or indirectly. Yet Americans for Prosperity is allowed by the IRS to promote or oppose candidates both directly and in "issue" ads indirectly.

In fact, though called a social welfare organization, Americans for Prosperity does no social welfare work. Its entire purpose is to support Mitt Romney and his platform.

And Americans for Prosperity is not alone. Emboldened by the Citizens United decision, numerous 501(c)(4) organizations are pouring money into Republican political campaigns and causes. And not only Republican. Obama backers recently created Priorities USA Action, again masquerading as a social welfare organization and concealing who their donors are.

When these organizations first appeared the IRS was caught off-guard. They've since considered some halting steps. But it is way past time to clean up this act, lest Americans get even more cynical about their government.

Knowles Wentworth,

president of the Board,

Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing, Oct. 10

Crowell Lot is the place

Editor of the Reformer:

I am disheartened by the many signs proclaiming opposition to moving forward with the Brattleboro Area Skate Park in its planned location. I am not a resident of Brattleboro, but I do own a small business here and I feel that the addition of the skate park will be very positive for the town. It will provide a productive, healthy, active, outdoor outlet for youths and others to channel their energy.

It seems to me that the opposition is predicated mainly on baseless stereotypes about the type of people who enjoy skateboarding. The "noise pollution" argument does not hold water when you're talking about one of the busiest streets in town in terms of automobile traffic. There will be no reduction in the ability to use Crowell lot for its other purposes. I sometimes bring my children to play at the playground there, and I have never seen anyone using the patch of grass where the skate park is to be constructed. If anything, it will add to the appeal of the playground -- I know my children will love watching the skateboarders do their tricks.

Finally, I believe Crowell lot with its proximity to downtown is the ideal location for the park. Moving the park to the old Home Depot location would make it quite inaccessible, and putting our youth in the position of having to walk a long stretch of Putney road -- which has no sidewalk -- to get to it seems an incredibly poor idea. The folks who have been working on realizing this project for years have engaged in a very thoughtful, open process and have worked hard to respond to all concerns brought to them. Isn't it time to join the process in a productive way instead of simply perpetuating negativism?

Rachelle Ackerman,

Cotton Mill, Brattleboro, Nov. 4

Child care should be affordable

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing about a recent report, "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care," released by Child Care Aware of America. The report examines the cost of child care for infants and 4 year olds in both child care centers and family child care homes in every state. For an infant, the average cost of center-based care ranges from $4,600 in Mississippi to nearly $15,000 in Massachusetts. Infant care is so expensive that it actually costs more than college in 36 states.

The cost of child care is high any way you measure it: Against income generally, against other household costs like mortgage or rent, food, or utilities, and it is increasing. It is no wonder that families struggle to afford the cost of child care. For families with two children, the cost of care is astronomical. All families should have access to quality, affordable child care to ensure that children are safe and in a setting that promotes healthy development. Unlike higher education that is underwritten by some public financing to make the cost of college more affordable for families, there is no systemic support for child care. It is time to look at the financing of child care as costs rise and an increasing number of families struggle with the costs -- not just low income families. For more information on the report, visit


Elizabeth Raposa

Executive Director, Windham Child Care Association, Nov. 5


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